By now, you’ve probably seen the headlines, the cable news segments, the social media posts — all about the latest culture war to engulf New York and the nation: the future of gas stoves.
“Out-of-touch politicians and bureaucrats in Albany are moving forward with a BAN on gas cooking stoves,” read a petition from state Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt, a Republican.
Or on Fox News: “Gov. [Kathy] Hochul, Democrats, if you mess with my gas stove, you’ll get burned.”
The national debate was ignited earlier this month by comments from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which raised — and later walked back — the possibility of a ban on gas stoves amid growing concerns over research connecting them to childhood asthma. A day later, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul unveiled a plan of her own to crack down on fossil fuels, including a ban on gas hookups in new buildings.
The events helped lead some New Yorkers — including Republicans in Albany — to claim Hochul is declaring war on cooking with gas. But Hochul says those who claim she’s trying to ban gas stoves altogether are mistaken. “No one is being required to get rid of their gas stove,” she told reporters on Monday. “Not now, not ever.”
Here’s what’s really going on regarding the future of gas stoves in New York:
What is Hochul proposing?
Hochul, a Democrat, made two separate proposals concerning the future of fossil fuel-powered appliances during her Jan. 10 State of the State address.
The first does apply to gas stoves. Hochul wants to ban fossil fuel hookups in newly constructed buildings — beginning with larger buildings in 2025, and following with smaller buildings in 2028. That means that any new apartments or homes built afterward would not be permitted to have gas-powered appliances, including stoves, furnaces or water heaters.
That proposal does not apply to existing buildings, meaning if you have a gas stove in your existing home, you would be allowed to keep it and even replace it, according to Hochul.
The second proposal does not apply to gas stoves, according to the governor’s office. Hochul wants to phase in a ban on the sale of new fossil fuel-powered heating equipment in New York, beginning with smaller buildings in 2030 and larger buildings in 2035.
That means if you have a gas or oil-powered furnace that stops working or otherwise wears out, you would have to replace it with an electrified option — such as a geothermal pump — after the proposed ban goes into effect.
Why is she proposing a ban on gas stoves in new buildings? And what’s fueling the outrage?
Hochul’s proposals stem from climate concerns.
In 2019, the state approved a law committing to a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from 1990 levels by 2030 and 85% by 2050. Much of that has to be done by reducing emissions from buildings, which represent the biggest single source of emissions statewide.
“Highly efficient, zero-emission buildings can be built at a minimal cost premium and will provide new residents with safer, healthier and more comfortable homes,” according to Hochul’s 2023 State of the State book.
One thing that may be helping fuel outrage in New York: The state is home to a particularly high number of people who cook with gas. About 62% of New York homes have a gas stove, cooktop and/or oven, compared to about 38% of homes nationwide, according to federal data.
Environmentalists have long accused the natural gas industry of stirring up opposition to any effort to curtail gas usage, such as when the city of Berkeley, California, pursued a ban on gas hookups in new construction in 2019.
“The fossil fuel industry is just grabbing onto anything that it can find, starting culture wars and fearmongering because they are scared that we are realizing that they’ve been promoting and marketing gas stoves, and that they’re actually contributing to childhood asthma and other health issues,” said Jessica Azulay, executive director of the Alliance for a Green Economy.
Why are critics saying New York is going to ban replacement gas stoves?
Part of the confusion appears to stem from people conflating Hochul’s two proposals — the ban on gas-stove hookups, which only applies to new buildings, and the ban on the sale of heating equipment, which would kick in in 2030.
Take comments from state Sen. Mario Mattera, a Long Island Republican, during a public hearing last week.
“The people that I represent are very concerned when they sit there and say, guess what? You’re not going to be able to go replace your gas stove in 2030, and you’re going to have to make sure it’s going to be an electric stove,” Mattera said.
But critics are also pointing to a separate government recommendation to make the case that New York is considering a full gas stove ban.
The state Climate Action Council is a 22-member panel tasked with devising a plan to meet the state’s climate change goals. And in December, the council issued a 445-page “scoping plan” that laid out a path to reduce emissions.
That scoping plan includes a series of wide-ranging recommendations to make it happen. Among them is a ban on the replacement of gas-powered stoves, ovens and clothes dryers beginning in 2035.
It’s important to note that the recommendation in the scoping plan isn’t binding, and it differs from what Hochul ultimately ended up proposing in her State of the State address. But state Sen. Tom O’Mara pointed out the mixed messages during the hearing last week, which focused on the scoping plan.
“A lot of people want their gas stove and want to continue with that,” O’Mara said. “Gov. Hochul told us last week she is not coming for our gas stove. This plan says just the opposite.”
Didn’t New York City already do something like this?
In 2021, the City Council and then-Mayor Bill de Blasio approved a measure effectively banning fossil fuel hookups in new construction. The measure is set to take effect for buildings with fewer than seven floors at the start of 2024, and larger buildings in mid-2027.
That said, current Mayor Eric Adams sounded his personal preference for gas stoves on Monday.
“Those of us who are good cooks — you know, people don’t realize electric stoves can’t give you the right setting,” Adams told reporters. “I’m a good cook. And now, [the] electric stove just doesn’t — it doesn’t cook for me.”
Later in the day, Adams’ spokesperson Fabien Levy said the mayor was just giving “his personal preference for cooking with gas,” not expressing opposition to Hochul’s policy.
“Under @GovKathyHochul’s proposals, Mayor Adams would be able to keep his gas stove just like every New Yorker who currently has one in their home,” Levy tweeted.
What about restaurants in new buildings? Will they be allowed to cook with gas?
So far, Hochul hasn’t unveiled the bill language for her proposals and has only released the broad strokes of what she’s hoping to do.
The food service industry is urging Hochul to consider a carve-out for restaurants in new buildings, as gas stoves remain the preference of many professional chefs.
Hochul says she’s considering it.
“We’ll certainly look at consideration of restaurants, for example,” she said. “Chefs are asking, ‘Can we have an exemption for gas stoves for restaurants?’ I want everybody to know we’re going to be very reasonable.”
Those who support the electrification of buildings are hoping Hochul doesn’t exempt restaurants. Dozens of electrification advocates rallied at the state Capitol on Tuesday, hoping to convince Hochul to speed up the timeline for the proposed ban on gas hookups — without significant exceptions.
“I think we should be really concerned about the fumes that restaurant industry workers are breathing in while they’re spending all day cooking in those commercial kitchens,” said Azulay of the Alliance for a Green Economy. “So I hope that the governor will consider the health of the people of New York as she mulls over how to move forward with her policy.”